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First Look: Rinspeed UC Commuter Car

More than a car, it’s a “mobility concept.”

by on Dec.16, 2009

The Rinspeed UC? isn't just a commuter car, the company asserts, but an entire "mobility concept."

The Rinspeed UC? isn't just a commuter car, it's said, but an entire "mobility concept."

We’re always intrigued when e-mail comes in from the quirky Swiss design house, Rinspeed.  Over the years, they’ve come up with flying cars, floating cars, and even a vehicle that can reconfigure its interior layout depending on how many passengers it’s carrying.

But the latest design exercise, due to make a more formal appearance at the Geneva Motor Show, early in 2010, is decidedly more than just another concept vehicle.  It is, in the company’s words, “an entire mobility concept.”

Look At Tomorrow!


The goal is to create “a new and highly emotional web-based car world that interweaves individual and public transport in an intelligent way. We want to create a community of people who are open for a new definition of mobility,” says Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht.  If you want to cut through the hyperbole, read on.


Egg-Mobiles, Swimming Cars, Solar Power and Other Assorted Swiss Auto Show Oddities

You can find almost anything at the Geneva Motor Show.

by on Mar.05, 2009

The Geneva Motor Show attracts 100 or more makers, including tuners, specialty makers, designers like Pininfarina -- its Bollore, shown here -- and other auto wannabes.

The Geneva Show attracts 100 or more makers, tuners, designers like Pininfarina -- its Bollore, above -- and other auto wannabes.

Ask anyone who works the international auto show circuit and you’ll likely get the same answer over and over again. The annual Geneva Motor Show seems to be just about everyone’s perennial favorite.

For newshounds, the event can be grueling to cover, considering there’s a news conference roughly every 15 minutes, from dawn to dusk, and you’ll jostle with thousands of colleagues for a good view and a better camera angle. But you’ll get a flood of news, especially if you’re sharp at spotting the assorted industry leaders who make their annual pre-Spring pilgrimage to Geneva’s PalExpo convention center.

Indeed, it’s a great place for executives, analysts and, well, just about anyone with a stake in the business to come together, formally or not. Wander the show’s crowded aisles and you might just spot Daimler CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche grabbing a few moments with his erstwhile rival, BMW Chief Norbert Reithofer. And even the highest-ranking executives seemed a little star-struck when the “Governator,” California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, wandered into PalExpo Wednesday morning, presumably on his own nickel and not California’s taxpayers.

Geneva brings out the automotive eccentrics, including one hopeful showing an egg-shaped car running on compressed air.

Geneva brings out the automotive eccentrics, including one hopeful showing an egg-shaped car running on compressed air.

Yet for many of us in the media, one of the most intriguing features of the Geneva Motor Show is the collection of unusual, and sometimes downright oddball automakers who share floor space with more mainstream manufacturers, such as Mercedes, Opel, Renault and Toyota.

Considering its national history – and with no major manufacturer of its own – the Swiss show is considered neutral territory, where anyone with the dollars to set up a stand can find space, and some of the strangest brands grab some of the most valuable real estate.

A few names are fairly well known to automotive aficionados, like the design house, Pininfarina, which brought its Bollore Concept to the ’09 Geneva show. The event is a good way not only to get its name out to the public, but to remind industry executives that it’s ready to lend its design magic to their products.


Sneak Peek: 2010 Rinspeed iChange

Adapting to the world outside … and inside.

by on Feb.16, 2009

Rinspeed iChange: 1, 2 or 3-seater at the touch of a button

Rinspeed iChange: 1, 2 or 3-seater at the touch of a button

We’ve grown accustomed to seeing some strange and intriguing designs from Frank Rinderknecht, and his Swiss-based Rinspeed. Over the years, he’s turned up at the annual Geneva Motor Show with an assortment of automobiles that can fly, swim and, yes, even drive down paved roads. But the show car Rinspeed plans to preview at the 2009 Geneva Salon International de l’Auto looks to be one of his most unorthodox works yet.

Dubbed the Rinspeed iChange, “It’s the world’s first car whose body adapts to the number of passengers on board,” according to Rinderknecht, who wants to position iChange as, “a symbol for the fundamental changes the auto industry undergoes worldwide.”

One minute, the zero-emissions iChange is a single-seater. But press a button and it converts to a roomy three-seater. “We have designed and built an extremely flexible vehicle,” contends Rinderknecht. “In it we have brought the themes of versatility and continually changing energy demands to their logical conclusions.”

Developed for Rinspeed by the European engineering firm, Esoro, the 2300-pound iChange is powered by a compact lithium-ion battery and electric motor propulsion system that turns out 150 kw, or 200 horsepower. It can launch from 0 – 100 kmh (0 – 62.5 mph) in just over four seconds, Rinspeed claims, and tops out at 220 kmh, or nearly 140 mph.